Clean energy program at AAST prepares students for next generation of electricity

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Some of the next generation of workers in the county are getting a chance to learn about the next generation of energy.

On Wednesday, one class at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology (AAST) near Carolina Forest used a soldering iron and some thin wire to make their first working solar panels.

“We are the first people to do this and this is the future,” said freshman Mary Katherine McElveen.

AAST started the clean energy technology pathway at the beginning of the school year. There are two other advanced career pathways that have just started at AAST: Aerospace engineering and innovations in science and technology.

Many of these 18 students will spend the next four years building, budgeting and experimenting with several types of renewable energy.

“You can learn how to help the environment without ruining it completely,” said freshman Hannah Harrison.

“It’s very interesting, especially with all the environmental issues that are going on right now,” said freshman Keegan Brown.

In four courses, the students will learn how each energy type can be used now and in the future.

“We can think about how we can improve this industry like how do we make, say, ocean power or new hydroelectric dams,” said freshman Merrik O’Neal.

AAST’s science department chair Tiffany Sellers, who teaches the class, says the lessons learned here will prepare the students, as demand grows for renewable energy in the county and across the state.

“Our kids are on the cusp, it’s exciting,” Sellers said. “They get to be the ones to start the companies, not just work at the companies.”

The solar panels are part of a semester-long project. The goal is for each group of about three students to put together enough panels to power appliances like small stoves and water pumps.

Each group also researched a developing nation to bring that appliance to and what type of energy source is best for that particular country.

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